I'm not good with my hands. That is to say, my fingers aren't quick, my motions are generally clumsy, and I can't coordinate my arms to save my life. I'm not really crafty. Like, I'm not good at needlepoint and I'm awful at fixing children's toys. I was breaking down cardboard today and it took me two minutes to collapse one box while my boss totaled six. I played keyboard accompaniment at our last worship sesh and it was a trainwreck. I can type, but my brain switches the order of the letters and numbers a lot, so I usually sacrifice speed for accuracy. You know, I'm not good with my hands.
I'm not super athletic either. I played soccer last week and three times I kicked past the ball. I can't shoot baskets. I can't throw a spiral. I can't field a ground ball. I've never been skiing, but I probably wouldn't be very good at that, either. My friend is teaching me to longboard and I keep wiping out all over the place. We went to the gun range today, and despite five years of training, I missed half my targets. I can't even remember the last time I went for a run! My lack of hand-eye coordination limits my ability to pick up most team sports without intense disciplined training, and I mentally have trouble wrapping my mind around the notion of repetitive, cemented technique. Fading and prompting? I need monster doses.
I'm also not terribly sharp. One of my potentially most embarrassing moments was playing Scrabble in the Mullaneys' kitchen, like, I don't know, this is partly my skewed self-perception that few like I ought to have been good at that game, but I could only think of three-letter words, and, there aren't words for the relief I felt when that game ended. It's the same story with most reasoning-heavy games, specially spacial ones. Tetris? Forget it. I'm just not sharp at connecting the dots, whether that's mapping information my boss gives me or connecting letters to form words in Scrabble, it seems that my brain's processing power stalls frequently from lack of theoretical RAM or something, and the gears in my mind are constantly grinding.
So, what I'm leading up to in light of all of this is, you know those people, those people you just have endless pity for because they just aren't competent? Like, they try really hard, and they give a good effort, but they just don't get the results normal people do. I kind of relate to those people. Like Ramona Quimby. No matter what she did and how well-intentioned she was, she could never do anything right. And sometimes she made a bigger mess than the problem she was trying to fix. I get that. And I know a few people like that. I feel bad for them; sometimes I feel bad for me, because it's just so much harder to go through the motions of what other people appear to do effortlessly, and the weigh of their/my incompetence is embarrassing or guilt-inducing.
I'm thinking about this because I read that novel, Nineteen Minutes, and I kept thinking about how Peter wouldn't have been picked on or an outcast if he had been a competent person. Instead he stuck out because he was sensitive and effeminate and just not really useful at anything. And so he became a victim. A murderous victim who shot up an entire school, but still, a victim nevertheless. Which, sidenote, is another reason while utilitarianism is so poisonous when it comes to human beings: when a person's humanity is measured by their usefulness, you get a person that is decidedly detrimental to society, people like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Well, I mean, humanistically speaking, anyway. Jesus covered this territory before any secular ideology did, but there it is.
So why does God make some people more competent than others? You understand what I mean by competent, of course? Useful? Good at general things? Thinking, doing, acting? There are only a handful of people out there who are good at everything (I have difficulty loving those people sometimes!) but there are a few standards of performance for the rest of us normal people, and if you don't meet those standard, you're incompetent. You know: clumsy, careless, an idiot. Incompetent. Sorry to keep repeating myself on this definition. I just think it's so interesting that such a thing exists, but I just don't know quite how to put it into words . . . is there a term for what I mean already? There probably is, it's probably jotted down in the depths of my psychology notes, something from the self-efficacy chapter. Oh! And that's the worst, right, this sort of incompetence paired with high self-efficacy? Awkward for everyone.
Anyway. Why are some people more competent than others? We all have our special giftings; I'm not referring to that. But maybe they're one and the same? Perhaps some people are gifted with every day coping mechanisms, equipped to be generally useful? And those that are more specifically gifted in other areas, they lack this ability to be general useful and competent? Peter was skilled at computer coding and designing video games; perhaps what he lacked in social sensitivity and athletic ability he made up for us technologial aptitude? I don't know, the more I mull this over the more I wonder if this dichotomy is only in my head and not in real life. I'm just trying to sort out what about all human beings is the same and what about us is different.
This is where I stop.